Preview: Fulham vs Southampton

Premier League action returns this weekend as Southampton aim to bounce back and gain some momentum going into a busy Christmas period. The 1-1 draw with Watford prior to the International break certainly felt like a defeat and a missed opportunity to pick up three valuable points.

Both Southampton and Fulham have only one win to their names this season with each side looking to restore some confidence.

Saturday’s fixture at Craven Cottage proves to be nothing but a relegation six pointer and anything less than three points will simply not suffice for Mark Hughes’ men, who currently sit out of the relegation zone on goal difference.

Fulham currently sit bottom of the Premier League table and to gain an insight into what we can expect from the Cottagers this weekend, I spoke to Matt Baldwin from Fulham Focus.

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What have you made of Fulham’s season so far? 

Whilst most of the results are on par with what you’d expect a newly promoted side’s to be, it’s more the performances that worried me & then towards the end of Slav’s reign you could just tell that the players had lost faith in his methods. Thank the Lord we got Burnley when they were in Europa League mode or it could have been a lot worse.

Fulham appear to be struggling at the foot of the Premier League table; what do you put this lack of ability to perform down to? 

Whilst injuries did play a role in the ever changing back line, I don’t think Jokanovic knew his best side & the constant chopping and changing meant we couldn’t get a settled side together. I also think that Slav’s refusal to change his style of play from last year cost us badly because teams figured out a way to stop us & we never had a Plan B.

Fulham spent £100m in the transfer window to bolster the side ahead of their return to the premier league; how did you rate your clubs summer dealings? 

I think a few of the signings were superfluous, the team from last year had earned the right to be starting in the top flight, but the influx of new players didn’t exactly help with the harmony in the camp in my belief. That being said there have been a few players I’ve been impressed with, Maxime Le Marchand being chief amongst them, who’s proven himself very capable both as a left back & centre back.

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Who do you expect to be your key man in a bid to get you out of a potential relegation dog fight?

Alfie Mawson. I truly believe if he’d been fit from the start of the season we’d be in a much better position than we are now. A good old fashioned centre back but above that, you can clearly see he’s got some leadership in him and that’s been one of the huge things we’ve been missing so far and will be very important going forward.

What do you make of the appointment of Claudio Ranieri? How do you think he can make an impact? 

It certainly took me by surprise, but the more I look at it, the more sense it makes. Claudio said in his first press conference that he thinks the defence is the most important aspect of the game & that’s what we need to fix the most. I think the main impact he’ll make will be with the morale of fans, he’s more upbeat & energetic than Slavisa & that’s going to rub off, even more so if results start to pick up.

Ahead of this weekends game, which Southampton player do you fear the most? 

James Ward Prowse. Predominantly going to be a threat from set pieces but just his general play is incredible, it’s an outrage he hasn’t got more time in the England squad by now.

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Finally; a score prediction for this Saturday. 

Fulham 2-1 Southampton.


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